The Anaheim Ducks have wrapped up a key piece of their core long-term, extending goaltender John Gibson with an eight-year contract worth an average of $6.4 million per season. Gibson has been very successful in his young career and there is really only caveat when it comes to the Pittsburgh native: injuries.
Gibson has missed games every season he’s been a regular in the NHL, due to a variety of ailments both upper and lower body, not to mention a concussion and a major groin injury during his rookie pro campaign in 2013-14.
On the plus side, Gibson is coming off his busiest year yet, with 60 starts for Anaheim this past campaign. His .926 save percentage was an NHL high for him and the Ducks finished with 101 points, good for second in the Pacific Division behind Vegas.
“I believe in John Gibson, as does everyone in the organization,” said GM Bob Murray. “This is obviously a major commitment by the club, but one we feel strongly about. John is equally committed to being a Duck. He is only now entering the prime of his career, and we are all confident his best is yet to come.”
Anaheim will need Gibson to stand tall again next year. The Ducks have an aging core, though captain and center Ryan Getzlaf is still a point-per-gamer when healthy. The franchise also has some nice players in their prime, from 2017-18 leading scorer Rickard Rakell to defensemen Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson and Cam Fowler. That blueline corps has been particularly effective of late and along with Gibson and backup Ryan Miller, contributed to Anaheim’s standing as the third-best defense in the league, giving up just 2.55 goals per game last season.
Having Gibson under contract until 2027 is a great security blanket for the Ducks. The franchise tends to reload instead of rebuild and along with their lone Stanley Cup title in 2007, the Ducks have made several long playoff runs. Gibson’s best effort in the post-season came in 2017, when Anaheim swept Calgary in the first round, then fended off Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in a taut seven-game series. The Ducks fell to Nashville in the Western Conference final, but Gibson finished the run with a very respectable .918 save percentage.
Gibson has otherwise struggled a bit in the playoffs – or if you want to be charitable, he’s been the second-best goalie in the series a couple times.
That would be the second X-factor in this deal, but it’s worth the risk. Finding a starting netminder has bedeviled a number of NHL franchises lately, holding them back from further success. Anaheim doesn’t have that problem and Gibson has proven himself to be one of the better bets in the league lately.
Since goalies tend not to lose their game as fast as skaters when they age, there’s no reason to doubt Gibson will be very good for the duration of this contract. Assuming he can sort out his conditioning approach, those annoying injuries can fall by the wayside.
And other than that, the Ducks won’t have to worry about their goaltending for a long time.